Celtic FC has made easy work of the Europa League Group E. Now, Lazio needs a favour if it hopes to see the knockout stages.
In what was supposed to be a Europa League group dominated by French-side Rennes, and Italian-side Lazio, Celtic FC has nearly run the board. If the Hoops can earn the draw or win against Romanian-side and new rival CFR Cluj, then they would have gone through the entire Group Stage unbeaten.
The Hoops have solidified the top spot in Group E with their 3-1 win over Rennes on Thursday putting them at 13 points with one match left. CFR Cluj is following close behind with nine points, and Lazio is directly behind CFR Cluj with six. It is possible that Lazio could advance with a win, and a CFR Cluj loss.
This best-case scenario for Lazio is possible considering that Celtic has remained unbeaten throughout the Group Stage, but Lazio will have to take care of business against what could be a tricky match against Rennes.
Speaking to SunSport, Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi made a desperate plea to the Hoops, but also acknowledged the position he is in:
“First of all, we have to do our duty in France. There’s no point worrying about what is happening in the other game if we can’t beat Rennes.
“Celtic have given everything in this group and I believe they will do this also in Romania.
“I believe it’s the mindset of the Scots to try and win every match and we have to hope they will do that and win at Cluj.”
The Lazio boss is definitely away of his situation and the situation of his club. The knockout stage hangs in the balance, and he will be depending on the Hoops to be his saviour. Could gamesmanship come into play for Celtic here? Probably not. The Hoops are too proud of a team to purposefully let CFR Cluj through. In any case, the Lazio boss has the right mindset:
“In football, nothing is impossible. We have to keep believing we will qualify.
“Celtic won at the Stadio Olimpico so they can certainly also win at Cluj. Like I say, it won’t matter if we cannot beat Rennes. Let’s do our job there and see what happens.”
Lazio most definitely poses a great threat to Celtic in the long-term. However, CFR Cluj is nothing to sneeze at. The ending to Group E should be a thrilling one.